PASAY--The duo of Sisi Rondina and Dzi Gervacio, the Philippines' best team bet in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open, swept United States' Lindsey Fuller and Kaley Melville, 21-12, 21-16, at the start of the women's main draw on Friday at the Sands SM By The Bay.
Although first-time partners in the sand court, Rondina and Gervacio seemed to have played together for so long, as the two used smart plays, solid attacking and sharp service against the much-taller Americans to give the country the much-needed win in the one-star tournament.
"We just played. We didn’t look at their perceived advantage over us and we didn’t think of how much bigger and taller they were,” said Rondina, who trained only with Gervacio for two weeks but has apparently connected so well.
"What we did was just showcase what we were capable of, what we could be proud of as Filipinos in front of the crowd rooting for us,” she added.
Rondina is the most experienced among Philippine team members, having played with Bernadeth Pons in last year's 29th Southeast Asian Beach Volleyball Championships in Singapore.
Other Filipinas who are making their FIVB World Tour debut were not as fortunate as they dropped their main draw openers.
DM Demontaño and Jackie Estoquia bowed to top-ranked Michelle Amarilla and Erika Bobadilla of Paraguay, 19-21, 13-21. Charo Soriano and Bea Tan were overwhelmed by Japan's Ayumi Kusano and Takemi Nishibori, 10-21, 9-21, while Karen Quilario and Lot Catubag lost to The Netherlands' Katja Stam and Julia Wouters, 13-21, 11-21.
Demontaño and Estoquia were in control in the opening set, 12-9, but the Paraguayans rallied to prevail and eventually win in straight sets.
Soriano and Tan valiantly battled against the Japanese, who displayed superiority in every skill.
Kusano however, had kind words for Soriano and Tan, describing them as "very good," during their FIVB World Tour debut.
This is Kusano’s second appearance in the Philippines, having played for Japan that won an invitational tournament at the air-conditioned Philsports Arena three years ago.
Kusano and partner Nishibori struggled with the hot weather, describing the outside court as “very different” and the conditions as very difficult”.
As for the Filipino men’s teams who were seeking the needed experience in international play, they went winless in their respective men's main draw openers.
Calvin Sarte and Jade Becaldo narrowly lost to Sweden's Martin Appelgren and Simon Boman, 24-26, 23-21, 13-15, while Ranran Abdilla and Edwin Tolentino dropped a similar heartbreaking loss against Hong Kong's Kevin Lao Tsz Ho and Wong Pui Lam, 18-21, 22-20, 10-15.
Kevin Juban and Raphy Abanto bowed to Austria's Florian Schetzer and Daniel Mullner, 10-21, 14-21, while KR Guzman and James Pecaña also took a straight sets loss to Chinese-Taipei's Wang Chin-Ju and Hsieh Ya-Jen, 20-22, 14-21.
Rounds of 12 in both men’s and women’s divisions and the quarterfinals are the focus of action on Saturday, May 5, in two courts at The Sands from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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